The U.S. should not permit Juveniles to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
Debate Rounds (5)
To start this debate I would like to give a few terms:
Parole: the conditional release of a person from prison prior to the end of the maximum sentence imposed.
juveniles: those under the age of 18.
My 1st contention is that it's a fact that the majority of minors who are imprisoned regardless of the crime come from troubled homes. Homes that are filled with all kinds of abuse, poverty and drugs. "Most young offenders serving life without parole were exposed to poverty, violence, or drugs during childhood." – The Equal Justice Initiative. It's safe to say that some of these minors commit the crimes they do because of the environment they're around. But is it fair that because of factors they couldn't control in their lives, factors that made them the criminals they are today, that we just lock them up forever with no chance of being set free? Children learn best from their surrounding, and if they were surrounded by an environment of crimes, they probably will grow up with this attitude also. Having older friends, may lead to felony murders and then possibly being given the life sentence. Teens today are all trying to fit in. If given the chance to have many friends, to be popular, and to fit in, some teens would probably commit a crime for this. If it means committing a crime to earn respect, many teens in rough neighborhoods would also take this chance. Would it not be more logically to place these minors in a safe environment where they could receive treatment and counseling for their illegal behavior? Instead if we lock them up, in difficult rough environments that may make them more aggressive and prone to breaking laws.
My 2nd contention is that minors are not emotionally adequate to understand their actions and consequences. They are commonly subjected to giving into their impulsive emotions. "Children aren't just like adults" says Ashley Nellis, an analyst at the Sentencing Project. They don't realize and fully understand the potential of how serious their actions and crimes are. They don't think of their consequences right there and then. If any of you have snuck out, you probably didn't think of the consequences before sneaking out. All you will think about is going out and having a good time. Even though you know it is wrong and are aware there will be a consequence, it is in the way back of your head and is not your first priority. Children are not just like adults, so why should they be trailed and sentenced the same as adults? The law has treated adolescents and adults differently on many cases before. A young adolescent cannot drive, while an adult. An adult can drink while an adolescent cannot, an adult can vote while an adolescent cannot. An adult may be sentenced for life because they have already gone through the emotional maturity that makes them have the ability to think of their consequences. One matures and learns through time and age. These minors who have been sentenced for life have yet to mature and learn to their full potential. That is solely due to the fact that they are too young and have not matured fully yet.
My 3rd contention is that if minors are sentenced to life, they will no longer have the ability to learn and grow from their mistakes. "They locked me up and threw away the keys. They took away all hope for the future" These words were spoken by Quantel Lotts, who has been in jail since age 14. He is now 23 and desperately trying to get out and change his life around. Not every child has a family, money, or a car, but what they do have is a future. By locking these minors up for their entire life, they are having their futures taken away. If one was to spend their whole life in a jail, they wouldn't learn from their mistakes. Instead, they would take in what's around them, which is other adult criminals, tattoos, violence, and rebellion, and would adapt to that behavior. In contrast of locking up minors for their wrong doing, we should help these juveniles to get through their environments and abuse by giving them a safe and inspiring environment. Many think that locking up these adolescents will help change them in a positive way, but in the contrary, it will change them in a negative way. Children and adolescents are the future of America, so we should help get them back in the right direction.
My opponent stated in her first contention that a majority of the juveniles are from troubled homes. As much as I do agree with that statement, it doesn't mean that because they come from troubled homes or families that it's okay and their right to commit such crimes. Why should we sentence one to life without parole, just because their family had issues. Also, my opponent has failed to submit any examples of juveniles who have commited crimes in order to fit into their realm of friends.
To refute her second contention, she states that minors are not emotionally adequate to understand their actions and consequences. This is untrue. In 2002, using the same example she uses in Contention 3, ... Quantell Lotts who was 14 at the time was "horseplaying" with his stepbrother, Michael Barton, who was 17. At some point during that horseplay, Lotts took out a knife and stabbed his step brother, in the end.. killing him. By age 14, I am sure that one knows what happens when we stab people ... they bleed, and if too much blood fluid is lost, the person dies. Whether he knew what would happen or not, he was the one who stabbed his stepbrother. Nothing forced him to, but his own mind.
Now to refute her 3rd contention, using the same example as I just refuted and supported my side with... She states that the government "locks the minors up and throws away the key" and as a result will make the juvenile not learn and eventually not become developed. However, you make it as if the government "cares" about the exact details of what happened. There are so many people that take cases to the State/County/Supreme Court and all the courts focus on is what occured. From this case, a 14 year old murdered a 17 year old due to the fact that when they were hoseplaying he wasnt able to support his own body to have self control. Hence the sentence if life without parole.
Now to build my case..
My first contention is that if juveniles were sentenced to life without parole, there is a reason. Giving a teen a life sentence without parole is against the US Constitution's 8th Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The cruel and unusual punishments clause also applies to states. This 8th amendment does not count for those juveniles who commit crimes that are both cruel and unusual. If the juvenile is sentenced to life without parole, the teen had to have commited a serious crime such as murder in order to receive this sentence.
My second contention is that juveniles will just become repeat offenders following their parole. What are the chances that if someone is sentenced to life without parole for a serious crime, in which witnesses of the juvenile testified in trial, that the juvenile(s) will seek revenge? This was a concern in Austin, Texas in 2005. No case in general was mentioned, however the topic was brought up and the "life without parole" is highly supported. The supporters have insisted that life without parole would enhance public safety by giving juries a way to keep heinous criminals locked up. If someone commits a crime such as rape, murder, embezzlement, or anything of the sort, why not keep them behind bars? If there is even a chance that the public may be at risk, the best thing to do is to not put them at risk. Let me ask you this one question... How can you know what a person is capable of until they do it? Oh wait.. they killed someone. Why give them another chance?
I look forward to my opponent's next speech.
before that though I would like to explain what parole actually is, it is when a person is watched carefully, to make sure they will not make a mistake, and if they plan to leave the country or something or go to a different state, they must tell their parole officer. If they do not, they will be subjected for further time in jail or fines.
I agree that it is not okay what they did, and they should be penalized for their actions. but to lock them up and throw away the key is just unfair. they are less developed. When someone is 14. they are less aware of many things then someone who let's say is, 35. Yet there are plenty of people who are 35 and have done henious acts and still have been given chance at parole. Is it right, to ruin someone's live, when they had no choice on the kind of home's they came from? My opponent showed us the example of juveniles who commit crimes to fit into their realm of friends, however that just further helps my case, these kids have these kinds of friends BECAUSE of the kind of enviroment they are brought up into. If we give these kids a chance of parole, a second chance then we are being fair, since there are adults, who have commit crimes, when they are more developed. Also there are studies that PROVE that kids are less developed mentally than adults, and are more prone to impulsive actions due to the hormonal changes in their body.
So are you saying the government does not care? well then you are claiming, that our governmentt does not care about us? I would like to state, our government was made for us. the Declaration of Independence says, for the people by the people so by law the government HAS to care for the indivuidual and if it doesn not care for the welfare of it's citizens then we in a sense breaking the law. which assists my case. Since there a firm laws i place to make sure that our government does not become corrupt. Thats why doing this is not only immoral, but illegal.
now to refute my opponents contentions.
My opponents first contention is that if juveniles are sentenced to life without parole. however if that were turrue that this was violatnig the 8th amendment then that means my opponent is trying to take away ALL parole. and chances at parole. which means adults would be trailed as well. if my opponent is correct, then that means it would not only effect juveniles but those who did nothing wrong as well, it would take away people's second chances. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone deserves a second chance. It is not fair, to take away their only chance. Also if we dont even give the juvenile a chance a parole we are taking away their rights to a fair. My opponent brought up the 8th amendment, and I quote he said. "which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments." How is being locked in a cell forever, with no chance of escaping ever not cruel? Teens get raped, and murdered in these jail cells. are we not being cruel by subjecting them to that their entire lives?
My opponents second contention is that juveniles will just become repeated offenders, but that is a logical fallacy! that is a complete over generalization. Not everyone who commits a crime, will become an offender, and the parole system is made to give people second chances, without risking the community. Also, why would someone who was given a second chance go get revenge? there is also the witness protection program if the witness fears that they are at risk. There is also restraining orders! there are plenty of programs implemented to protect the individual. it is morally unjust not to give these kids who made a mistake a second chance.
To refute even the definition my opponent has provided, I have researched a new definition per se. As defined in the "Wordia" dictionary, Parole is defined as the freeing of a prisoner before his/her sentence has expired, on the condition that he/she is of good behavior. Parole is the "getting out early", as opposed to watching the parolee after they are released.
My opponent states that it is unfair to those who have committed such serious crimes to have been locked up without any chance of being free. This makes no sense. Why would you let a teenager/juvenile who has committed a serious enough crime to where as they have no rights anymore, out into the public? This can even tie into the sixth amendment, part of the United States Constitution, which is the right to a fair trial. If someone has had their loved one, another human being taken from them, without the fault of the victim provoking it, no matter what age the criminal is, whether they are 13 or 47, they will get the same punishment. Why? Because the same amount of harm was done to the victim. Hence, why the charges filed shall not be consequenced differently.
My opponent uses quotes from the Declaration of Independence. Let me start off by stating that this document is not a legal document. Nothing that is written or interpreted on or by the Declaration of Independence can accountable in our justice system, for that exact reason. Using the quote from the DOC, she states that we are a government by the people, for the people... a democracy. I agree we are a democracy, but not 100% of Americans agree with how the government runs. If they did, why have elections for presidents, and why would we vote on health care plans? We wouldn't because supposedly, everyone agrees. What she is saying I stated isn't correct. I stated that the government does care what happens to us as citizens and those whom infringe upon our rights. The judicial system will not go into every single aspect of a case. Why? Because the courts are so crowded with meaningless trials of discrimination, harassment, et cetera.
My opponent also attacks my contentions. To refute my first, she states that it is cruel for the government to not follow the 8th amendment, and I assume that my opponent means that because the offenders may be young, that we are required to give them a second chance. Not true. As stated earlier in this same speech. If such a crime is committed, to which the 8th amendment isn't valid, the offender, no matter what age, will serve the same consequence as anyone else. And of course they wouldn't let them back out! Extreme damage was done, regardless of age. Tying this into a non-serious example, that's like having a 12 year old drive a car, crash, kill someone on impact, and walk on it. Just because he's 12 and a juvenile doesn't mean that nothing can happen. Age doesn't matter. Also, my opponent states in her refutation that juveniles can get raped, etc while in prison. Might I mention, that these teens are held separate from adults. That is a law and requirement by both state and federal governments. Hence, the "Juvenile Detention Centers around the country. They aren't meant for adults, they are maximum security detention centers.
Refuting my last contention, she states that I have said a logical fallacy, when in fact I have not. To quote from LawyerShop.com, a well known website for those that are on a need-to-know basis on laws/policies/etc... "Exposure to pornography and entertainment-violence seeds an inaccurate perception of people; this perception may have the latent effect of causing criminal action." That one sentence supports my case because it states that pornography (which is public) and entertainment (obviously public) that has violence in it causes crimes to occur. Once juveniles are let out early, they immediately gain access to this material and do with it what they can.
To rebuild, I will restate my three contentions. My first contention is that if juveniles were sentenced to life without parole, there is a reason. My second contention is that juveniles will just become repeat offenders following their parole. I would also like to add that my opponent has not provided any sources in her case so that myself or others may check for validity. The only source she has made a reference to was the Declaration of Independence, which as stated, is not a legal document.
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Vote Placed by aldooffline 6 years ago
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